• Why was the Donor Conceived Alliance of Canada (DCAC) created?
The Donor Conceived Alliance of Canada (DCAC) was created in May of 2018 after Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather (Mount Royal, Liberal) made his plans to propose Bill C-404 public. Mr. Housefather’s Bill, if passed, would have amended the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (2004) to decriminalize compensation for gamete donors and surrogates. At the press conference Housefather held to announce this Bill, no donor-conceived people were present. From it’s crafting, to it being brought forward to Canadians publicly, donor-conceived Canadians soon realized that, as with other policy discussions regarding third-party reproduction, we had been completely absent from the discourse. This was not because we were not interested in the evolution of policies governing third-party reproduction or the science informing the industry, but because there is a consistent effort to bar us from being recognized as meaningful stakeholders.
A group of donor-conceived Canadians formed the DCAC to ensure that donor-conceived Canadians are meaningfully represented in federal and provincial policy discussions regarding third-party reproduction and are viewed as stakeholders in regulatory consultations with governmental departments, such as Health Canada.
• Do you advocate for discriminatory practices or privilege a specific family structure?
Absolutely not. The Donor Conceived Alliance of Canada (DCAC) acknowledges and respects diverse family structures and does not tolerate unjust or prejudicial treatment of any group. We advocate for inclusive policies and oppose those that stigmatize same-sex couples, single parents, and blended families. Several of our members are apart of the LGBT community, are single parents or in blended families, are in co-parenting arrangements, or were donors or recipient parents themselves.
The DCAC does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, physical or mental ability, or marital status.
• Are you formally partnered with any other organizations?
No. The Donor Conceived Alliance of Canada (DCAC) is not formally partnered with any other organizations and is politically independent.
• Are you a support group?
No. The Donor Conceived Alliance of Canada (DCAC) is not a support group. We link to a variety of resources, including support groups, on our website. The DCAC is an advocacy group that takes issue with the ways third-party reproduction has been discussed, governed, and regulated in Canada. The DCAC advocates that the rights of donor-conceived people be at the forefront of policy discussions regarding gamete donation.
• Are you against all forms of reproductive technology?
No. The Donor Conceived Alliance of Canada (DCAC) does not oppose all forms of reproductive technology. Reproductive technology is a term that encompasses a vast number of medications, procedures, treatments, and anticipated technologies. The fields of science, medicine, law, business, and bioethics that are committed to theorizing, researching, administering, and regulating reproductive technologies are complex and often contradictory. The DCAC acknowledges that many forms of reproductive technology have improved the lives of many and that others have yet to have their long-term effects comprehensively studied.
The DCAC, however, is primarily concerned with third-party reproduction and opposes policies and regulations that are wholly inadequate and do not take donor-conceived people’s rights and interests into account.
• Are you the only donor-conceived people who take issue with the fertility industry and the laws and regulations governing it?
No. There are advocacy organizations started by and for the donor-conceived across several countries including those in the United States (U.S. Donor Conceived Alliance), France (Procreation Médicalement Anonyme), Germany (SpenderKinder), and those that have an international scope (International Donor Offspring Alliance).
The Donor Conceived Alliance of Canada (DCAC) is one of many organizations, along with medical and legal professionals and others who are stakeholders in assisted reproduction, that advocates for reform.
• Anonymity is an absolute right that is promised to gamete donors. If you abolish anonymity nobody will ever donate.
False. Under the law, anonymity is not an absolute right. It is a qualified right. This means that there are several instances wherein one’s anonymity is interfered with so long as the interference is not arbitrary and is lawful. Anonymity in gamete donation should not be permitted and promised at all. This is not only because anonymity is theoretically not an absolute right, but because in practice, it is simply impossible to guarantee.
To date, over 26 million people have added their DNA to the four leading commercial DNA databases. MIT Technology Review estimates that if the current trend in growth continues, the number will reach 100 million people within a mere 24 months. Everyday donor-conceived individuals are finding their biological parents, donors are finding their biological children, and recipient parents are finding their donors. Many fertility experts and lawyers agree that because of the increasing likelihood of people discovering their biological family, anonymity is a myth.
For example, Susan Crockin, a family lawyer and adjunct professor at Georgetown Law School, tells her clients that, “anonymity is a myth” and, “the chances of a donor-conceived person being able to find their [biological parent]… are almost guaranteed today.”
Furthermore, in the U.K., where gamete donor anonymity has been banned since 2004, numbers released by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) challenge the claims that banning anonymity would result in a significant decrease in gamete donation.
In 2006, shortly after the U.K. banned anonymity, the HFEA’s numbers showed that between April-October 2004 133 sperm donors were registered in the U.K. Post-anonymity ban, between April-October of 2005, 143 sperm donors were registered.
One of the most recent HFEA reports (2017, released Oct 2019) indicate that between 2012 and 2017 registered egg donors have increased 10% and registered sperm donors have increased 9.6%.
Evidence suggests that the decline in gamete donation after banning anonymity can be either encouraged or reversed by clinic recruitment efforts. Therefore, the notion that there will be an absolute decrease in gamete donors for a long period after banning anonymity is not legitimate.
Eric Blyth and Lucy Frith, “The U.K.’s Gamete Donor ‘Crisis’ – A Critical Analysis,” Critical Social Policy 28, no. 1 (2008).
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) Report: https://www.hfea.gov.uk/about-us/publications/research-and-data/
• Besides the U.K., the Netherlands, and parts of Australia, are there any other jurisdictions that are regulating this industry in a way that takes donor-conceived people’s rights and interests into account?
In addition to the above jurisdictions, Austria (1992), Switzerland (1998), Norway (2003), Holland (2004), New Zealand (2004), Finland (2006), Sweden (2006), Washington State, United States (2011), Croatia (2012), Germany (2015), and Argentina (2014) have all recognized the importance of comprehensive reform and have slowly implemented policies that have taken the rights of donor-conceived people into account. Most of these policies concern anonymity. You can read more about them here.
• What kinds of language should I use when talking about donor conception and those born through this technology?
This list does not claim to reflect the opinions of all donor-conceived people everywhere. Donor-conceived people should be encouraged to use the language that is comfortable for them. The DCAC believes, however, that with respect to policy discussions language is important and the following should be kept in mind:
– Avoid calling all donor-conceived people “babies” or “children” as the people advocating for better laws and regulations are often legal adults. Calling donor-conceived people “babies” or “children” is disempowering and perpetuates the notion that we are children who never grow up to become autonomous beings with our own thoughts and feelings about the fertility industry and the way it is governed. Instead, simply say donor-conceived (with or without the dash) people or adults. You may see the letters “DCP” on our website and others like it. It stands for “donor-conceived person/people”.
– Avoid saying that someone’s biological parent is “just” a donor and that donor-conceived individuals should not be curious about who their biological parents are. Some people are not curious about their genetic background, but many are. Every donor-conceived person places a different level of significance on the relationship they have or do not have with their biological parent(s). It is no one else’s place to dictate where the emphasis should be or how it should be articulated.
– Avoid labelling someone’s biological parent as their donor. “Donor” is a reference to the relationship between intended parents and gamete donors. It does not describe the relationship between gamete donors and their genetic children. Rather than referring to someone’s biological parent as “their sperm donor”, for example, simply refer to the person as the biological or genetic parent.
– Avoid saying that the biological or genetic parent is the “real” parent. Donor-conceived people are not a monolith. We come from diverse households. Some of us have heterosexual parents, some have single mothers, some have same-sex parents. Do not suggest that our legal parent(s) did not or do not play a significant role in our lives or that our search for our genetic relatives is a reflection of how we feel about our parents.
– Avoid the term “dibling” when referring to a donor-conceived person’s half-siblings. “Dibling” is short for “donor sibling”. Although it sounds cute, it often downplays the reality that donor-conceived people often have dozens or even hundreds of half-siblings and that this can be a complex journey for us – emotionally and legally — especially because most of us were never meant to find one another. Be scientifically accurate and simply say half-siblings.